As the year comes to and end, and I try to reflect on everything I have done and everywhere I have been — all I can say is WOW!. The year started out with a great photography trip to Patagonia with Thom Hogan. We will ignore the extra few days we were held hostage in southern Chile. This was followed by the Ultimate Travel Workshop II on the Semester at Sea M/V Explorer lead by Michael Mariant. This started in San Diego, and then stopped in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (including a transit through the Panama Canal), Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and ended in Fort Lauderdale. My parents were along for this trip. I then attended a Workshop in Death Valley, also lead by Michael Mariant.
There have been a number of challenges at work. We shut down our San Francisco operations which included part of my group, and thus no more regular trips to California. We ended the year achieving (and exceeding) all of our objectives. I also attended a work sponsored executive retirement seminar. It is hard to believe that I have been working long enough to even consider retirement, but then again maybe I could spend more time working on photography.
This year I expanded beyond my Nikon cameras and lenses — adding a Leica X1 and Leica V-Lux 30 P&S cameara. NAS did add a couple of lenses to the kit (500 mm f/4 VRII and 600 mm f/4 VRII telephoto). Also at the end of the year I added a Nikon 1 V1 (mirrorless) camera body with the 10 mm f/2.8 lens, the 10-30 mm lens, 30-110 mm lens, and the 10-100 mm lens. I am looking forward to the FT1 lens adapter so I can use this camera body with a telescope.
Looking through my image database, it looks like I took something over 120K images this year — a new record for me. It also meant that I needed to update my digital asset management strategy. Lightroom is good, but can’t handle this many images. I’m currently testing Media Pro (Phase One). Capture One Pro (also Phase One) is now my primary image processing workflow, although I still am using Adobe Photoshop CS 5 and many Nik, OnOne, and Topaz plugins. I also needed to update my image storage and backup strategy after some hard drive failures. I’ve moved to a couple of Drobo disk arrays (16 TB) on and off-site.
Plans for next year? Thought about, but I didn’t sign up for the Semester at Sea Enrichment Voyage to the Carribean and Brazil (including a trip up the Amazon river). Thinking about a Hurtigruten cruise in Norway to see the Northern Lights, Nikonians Ultimate Travel Workshop III (San Diego, Central America, Peru – including Galapagos Islands), and also a trip to Cuba. If none of this works out, maybe it it time for a road trip out west. The White Ram (Roadtrek RV) is anxious for a road trip!
After dumping Facebook last year when my account was hacked, I joined Google+ this year. Google+ is a better platform for photographers. I really like the Daily Image Themes, and have been contributing a number of images.
The Photographic Art Society of Florida. “Black & White and One Color” Exhibition.
I just got word that a print of my image “Girl with Yellow Pants Running” won First Place at the The Photographic Art Society of Florida exhibition last night. The theme of the show was “Black & White and One Color”. I took this image while on the second Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop (UTPW-II) earlier this spring while returning by bus from a field trip to the Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala (02-May-2011) in the town of San Francisco de Sales. The image was processed with Capture One Pro 6 using the inverse color selection tool to select the yellow color of the pants and notebook and decreasing the saturation of all other colors to black and white. Other processing was performed with Nik Viveza, Nik Define, and Photoshop CS5. I thank my sister Kari Sheppard for persevering while printing the image for the exhibition since it kept coming out too dark.
Gone to See Central America and the Panama Canal. Semester at Sea Spring 2011 Enrichment Voyage on the MV Explorer. Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop II with Michael Mariant. Day 7: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.
We had to get up early in order to depart for the Tarrales Bird Watching field trip at 05:30 AM. On the bus ride to Tarrales I got a grab shot of some school girls waiting for the bus to school. A good fraction of the folks on this tour were part of the Road Scholar contingent attending the Enrichment Voyage. As such the average age was higher, and we knew that we would not be hiking as far as we did yesterday to the volcano. Even though we left early, it wasn’t early enough for best bird viewing. Also, my 70-300 mm lens did not have the reach to get good images of the birds we did see. Our guide was good at finding the birds in the canopy. I only have one image of a midget owl, and it is a crop zoomed to 100%. It would have been a bit better if I took my D3x body with double the sensor size vs. the D3s body. I took the D3s because of the better low light capabilities coupled with the 70-300 f/5.6 limits. Jon got some better images with his 400 mm f/4 + TC.
After the Owl, I then switched to my 105 mm f/2.8 macro lens and focused on closer objects. In addition to close-up images of insects and flowers, the 105 mm lens is also great for people. The remainder of the following images are of a small girl in Tarrales, a local jail, a close up of a China Berry, and of a flower with a bee. Then images from the bus ride back to the M/V Explorer. A school girl, Guatemalla mass transit, a coconut vendor with his machete, limes at a produce stand, woman walking past a produce vendor, a cross-eyed guy next to a “Prohibido Estanciona” sign, woman vendor cutting coconut, her son, and several images from an open market produce vendor.
Individual images in the slide show can be viewed and/or purchased here.
Gone to See Central America and the Panama Canal. Semester at Sea Spring 2011 Enrichment Voyage on the MV Explorer. Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop II with Michael Mariant. Day 6: Guatemala.
We arrived at San Francisco de Sales, a small hamlet in Pacaya Volcano National Park. As soon as we got off the bus we were mobbed by children selling (or renting) wood walking sticks. The price started at $1 US per stick, and quickly dropped to 2/$1. Before starting the hike we had lunch (chicken or beef with rice and vegetables). We were also given the option to ride a horse for $10 US. I decided to take this option since I had a good experience riding horses earlier this year in Patagonia. Unlike the ride in Patagonia, each horse had guide lead the horse up the trail. My guide was Antonio, and the horse I rode was named “Champion”. Much of the trail was in the clouds. Each time the group stopped to rest, the horse guides without riders yelled “taxi taxi”. Rob soon decided that he needed a taxi. At one point it started to rain, and I got to wear an authentic poncho. Near the end of the trail, we got off the horses and did the remainder of the trail on foot. We went past some hot vents — warm enough for some of the folks to roast marshmallows. There was another large tunnel that the more adventurous entered. When we got back to San Francisco de Sales, the kids that had earlier sold the walking stick looked to get them back. There was a real pecking order, with the larger boys retrieving more of the sticks. Some of the passengers did take the walking sticks back to the ship. There was a concern that the kids guiding the horses and selling the walking sticks should have been in school.